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Wait! Benefits? Different Types of RV Plugs (30 amp vs. 50 amp power)

| Updated Apr 2, 2023

What's the difference between 30 amp vs. 50 amp power for RVs? Can you connect one to the other? Here's what you need to know about the different types of RV plugs…

A member of our RV Lifestyle Facebook group recently asked our community about the differences between plugging into a 30 amp vs 50 amp outlet.

Christopher asked: “So what is the benefit to plugging my 30amp RV into a 50amp outlet with the adapter? Will it allow me to run more appliances? Or be better for my air conditioner?”

He received some flack in the comments from people who apparently thought the answer should be obvious, but many new RVers have the same questions. Thankfully, many RVers did reply with helpful comments and pointed out some important differences between the types of RV plugs and electrical connections.

We will share some of the helpful comments as well as explain some things you need to know about your RV's electrical system.

If you buy something through our links, we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps keep our lights on so we can continue to provide helpful resources for RVers. Read our full affiliate disclosure here.

3 Main Types of RV Plugs

Wait! Benefits? Different Types of RV Plugs (30 amp vs. 50 amp power)

There are three main types of RV plugs: 30 amp, 50 amp, and 15 amp. Let's explain the differences between these plugs, and then we'll answer the most common questions regarding them.

30-Amp Plug

A 30-amp plug delivers up to 30 amps of electrical power to an RV and is most commonly found in older and smaller RVs. It has 3 prongs: a hot wire, a neutral wire, and a ground wire.

The hot wire delivers 120 volts of alternating current (AC) power to the RV, while the neutral wire returns the current to the source. The ground wire provides a safe path for any excess electrical current.

50-Amp Plug

A 50-amp plug delivers up to 50 amps of electrical power to an RV. It is commonly found in large RVs and motorhomes with multiple air conditioning units, large appliances, and other power-hungry devices. It has 4 prongs.

The four prongs consist of two hot wires, a neutral wire, and a ground wire. The two hot wires deliver 120 volts each, for a total of 240 volts of AC power to the RV. The neutral wire returns the current to the source. And the ground wire provides a safe path for any excess electrical current.

15-Amp Plug

15-amp plugs aren't common these days since they don't operate on as much power. But if you have an older RV or a very small travel trailer, you might have this kind of electrical hookup. These plugs can connect to standard electrical outlets or 30-amp power pedestals with this adapter.

How Do I Know Which Type of Plug I Have?

Your owner's manual will specify the kind of plug, but it's just as easy to look at your RV's plug. You can tell by the number and placement of its prongs:

  • 30-amp plug: 3 prongs (2 angled flat prongs and 1 round prong)
  • 50-amp plug: 4 prongs (3 straight flat prongs and 1 round prong)
  • 15-amp plug: 3 prongs (2 straight flat prongs and 1 round prong– looks like standard house plug)

Can I Plug a 30-amp RV into a 50-amp Outlet?

Yes, you can use a 30-amp RV plug with a 50-amp outlet, but you'll need an adapter to connect. As mentioned, a 30-amp plug only has 3 prongs, whereas a 50-amp has 4. So, you cannot connect without an adapter.

There are plenty of adapter plugs online, but here is a good 50-amp to 30-amp Dogbone adapter with 50-amp male to 30-amp female.

Is There a Benefit to Plugging a 30-amp RV into 50-amp Outlets?

No, there is no power benefit to plugging a 30-amp RV into a 50-amp outlet. Your RV will not run off more power because it's plugged into a higher amperage power source.

A 30-amp RV is designed to run on only 30 amps. So, when you are plugged into shore power, it will only draw up to 30 amps as needed. If you have a 50-amp adapter, you can safely plug a 30-amp plug into a 50-amp adapter to run your RV.

That brings us to the one big benefit

Some campgrounds only have 50-amp power outlets OR their 30-amp connection is bad. It's not uncommon to go to plug in your 30-amp cord only to realize the RV campgrounds' outlet is bad. If you have an adaptor, you have a plan b and can plug it into the 50-amp outlet (in sites that have both on the pedestal).

Can I Plug a 50-amp RV into a 30-amp Outlet?

Yes, you can plug a 50-amp RV into a 30-amp outlet with an adapter. However, your 50-amp system won't be operating at full power, so you may have to limit which appliances (like multiple AC units) you run simultaneously.

Here is a good 30 amp to 50 amp RV adaptor that has a 30 amp male to 50-amp female.

Do I Need to Use a Surge Protector With My RV Plug?

Yes, RV owners should always use an RV surge protector to protect their RV's electrical components. Power surges commonly damage or wipe out an RV's electrical system; you don't want to mess with that.

Some RVs have built-in surge protectors, but if yours doesn’t, we recommend 30 Amp Surge Guard or 50 Amp Surge Guard. You can get 5% off either of those surge protectors (or any TechnoRV products) with the coupon code RVLIFESTYLE5.

Do I Need an RV Extension Cord for Electric Hookups?

It's always a good idea to carry an extension for your RV power cord. Sometimes you need the extra length to reach the power pedestal at an RV park. We recommend the Camco 30′ 50-amp extension cord or the Camco 25′ 30-amp extension cord.

Wait! Benefits? Different Types of RV Plugs (30 amp vs. 50 amp power) 1

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RV Hookups for Beginners

Like what you see in these videos? We'd appreciate it if you would Subscribe to our YouTube Channel (easy to do right here) and consider “ringing the bell icon” to be notified of any new video from us. 🙂 Thanks!

Jennifer and I have been doing this for a long time. So, sometimes we take for granted some of the beginner’s tasks that are now second nature to me. RV hookups being one of those things.

We realized I should take a step back and cover some basics that RV beginners need to know. And what better way to start than how to connect full hookups on your first stay at a campground?

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Continue reading RV Hookups for Beginners (5 Steps for Your First Trip)

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Wait! Benefits? Different Types of RV Plugs (30 amp vs. 50 amp power) 2

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Mike Wendland

Published on 2023-03-31

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

9 Responses to “Wait! Benefits? Different Types of RV Plugs (30 amp vs. 50 amp power)”

April 16, 2023at4:06 pm, James Forbeck said:

Quote from article “The hot wire delivers 120 volts of alternating current (AC) power to the RV, while the neutral wire returns the current to the source.” True for DC that one wire always delivers and the other returns, but not the same for AC. In AC the wires share the responsibilities. 120 times per second (60hz) the hot and neutral change roles between supplying and returning. Under normal conditions the neutral doesn’t give you a shock when you touch it alone while standing on the ground because the power supply holds it at the same potential as ground.


April 05, 2023at4:12 pm, John Sutjak said:

When packing up our trailer to leave yesterday morning we suddenly lost power. Our trailer has a 50 amp service but the campsite only had a 30 amp plug so we used a 30 amp to 50 amp dogbone for the connection. Noticed our 50 amp surge protector was saying we had 60 H, and 125V on both Line 1 and Line 2. However both Lines were saying we had 0 Amps. It also was indicating E 0, I’m not sure of this one. When we got home I plugged into our 20 amp outlet at home with an adaptor and got the same readings. Is there something wrong with the surge protector or do I need to do something to reset the surge protector?


April 01, 2023at3:35 am, Team Electrical said:

Stop spreading this misinformation. 50 amps is 50 amps, that’s it. Look up the truth. You don’t add the legs together.


April 01, 2023at3:38 am, Team Electrical said:

That was Re: Donald Haskin


April 05, 2023at5:24 pm, J Akst said:

You are wrong. RVs are wired differently than homes. Each leg has 50 amps available for a total of 100 amps. As a master certified rv tech, I see this often misunderstood. If your RV has an electrical monitoring system you will see each leg will draw up to 50 amps at 120VAC.


March 31, 2023at1:18 pm, Bryant Payne said:

RE surge protectors: IMHO, RV surge protectors are one of the most oversold items for a variety of reasons. The 120V AC system in an RV is basically the same as a house, but we don’t run surge protectors on our houses. In over 35 years of operating RVs I have had zero electrical problems. I do test the pedestal with a simple tester that checks for missing neutrals, crossed hot neutral, etc, and I have found a few over the years, mainly at older private campgrounds. Buy a simple $20 tester instead of a $300 device that mainly provides an opportunity to stare at another app on a smartphone.


March 31, 2023at9:19 am, Donald Haskin said:

I need to comment on your 30 amp vs 50 amp RV supplies. As you correctly state the 50 amp receptacle consists of 2 120-volt “legs”. Each leg is capable of providing 50 amps of 120-volt power to the RV for a total of 100 amps of 120-volt power, so there is a big difference in the power available between a 50 amp and 30 amp service. The only thing about which to be cautious when using a 50 amp to 30 amp adapter is that your RV is that the over current protection (fuse or circuit breaker) is now 50 amps, not 30 amps. This puts more responsibility on the RV owner to make sure that they are limiting their current use as the automatic protection will now be 50 amps rather than 30.


March 31, 2023at10:15 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thanks, Donald – Team RV Lifestyle


March 31, 2023at1:07 pm, Bryant Payne said:

If the RV electrical system is properly wired it will have a 30 amp main breaker. The fact that it is hooked to a 50 amp service does not affect the protection, as it cannot draw more than 30 amps without tripping its own breaker. It’s the same as a house, which typically has a 200 amp main breaker but is connected to a transformer that can provide 600-1000 amps.


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